PEOPLE in County Durham and Darlington are being encouraged to
be tested for HIV during National HIV Testing week from Friday 21
November to Sunday 30 November ahead of World AIDS Day on Monday 1
County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and Durham
County Council have teamed up to fly their Red Ribbon flag above
County Hall from Monday November 24 November to Friday 5 December
in a bid to raise awareness, encourage people to be tested for HIV
and reduce the stigma around HIV.
Whilst prevalence of HIV in the County Durham and Darlington
area is relatively low, cases in the North East are on the
increase. The number of people newly diagnosed in the region rose
from 129 in 2011 to152 in 2012. A Public Health England report
suggests there might be as many as 350 more people in the North
East unaware they have the condition.
In Durham, the prevalence of HIV is 0.53 per 1,000 and in
Darlington it is 0.90 per 1,000. This is lower than the threshold
of 2 per 1,000, set by Public Health England, at which guidelines
stipulate routine testing should take place within medical
National figures from Public Health England show that 75 per
cent of patients newly diagnosed with HIV have been seen in the
healthcare system in the 12 months prior to their diagnosis. This
suggests healthcare professionals might be missing key symptoms
which could have led to earlier testing and diagnosis.
Lynne Paterson, sexual health improvement and HIV prevention
lead for County Durham, and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said,
"Due to the fact we have low prevalence rates of HIV, it is easier
to miss key indicator conditions when patients present at
healthcare settings, so this year we are encouraging everyone to be
tested and know their status, which coincides with the national
campaign. If you think you may have put yourself at risk,
please attend one of our GUM settings for a full screen, see our
website for venues and clinic times,
"As well as encouraging people to be tested, we are raising
awareness with health professionals throughout National HIV testing
week to encourage them to test patients and reduce late diagnosis.
The earlier someone is diagnosed as HIV positive, the better it is
for them in terms of reducing or slowing down the damage caused to
their immune system, increasing the treatment options available,
resulting in better health outcomes for them overall."
County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust will be
raising awareness about HIV testing and handing out red ribbons in
the run up to World AIDS Day. They will be at:
Monday 24 November at Darlington Memorial Hospital between 11.30 -
2pm in main corridor outside the Education centre.
Tuesday 25 November at the University Hospital of North Durham
between 12.30 - 2pm, outside the restaurant.
Wednesday 26 November at Bishop Auckland Hospital between 11.30 -
2pm in the main foyer, near the restaurant.
There will also be a HIV and World AIDS day public display at
County Hall from Tuesday 25 November to Monday 1 of December.
This is to mark National HIV testing week prior to World AIDS day
on Monday 1 December. People will be able to view the
display, pick up their own Red Ribbon and information about local
clinics for tests and a selection of free condoms.
Free condoms and HIV testing are available at GUM clinics at the
University Hospital of North Durham, Darlington Memorial Hospital
and Bishop Auckland Hospital. Special clinics offering rapid
testing are also held at the Chester-le-Street HUB from 9am to noon
every Monday, followed by a session at Stanley Primary Care Centre
from 2pm to 4.30pm, again each Monday. Results are given within an
hour of the tests being carried out.
'I cannot commend the clinic enough. It is marvellous we
have this service at all and well done to you all.'
Patient, Coronary Heart Disease / Heart Failure Service, Shotley
Bridge Community Hospital